(Compact Linear Accelerator for Research and Applications)

Using particle accelerators to generate electromagnetic radiation has proved to be an invaluable tool for scientific experiments. The latest generation of these ‘light sources’ is the X-ray Free Electron Laser (FEL), which has been demonstrated with outstanding performance characteristics in the USA and Japan, with others in development. Even given these impressive achievements, the potential for FELs is still far greater in terms of optimising the output performance to further the capabilities of the science community.



Part of ASTeC’s (Accelerator Science and Technology Centre) future strategy is to develop a next-generation light source test facility to be constructed at Daresbury Laboratory. This new proposed test accelerator will be known as CLARA (Compact Linear Accelerator for Research and Applications). The CLARA project aims to build on the UK’s existing expertise and experimental experience in free electron lasers, to pave the way for a state-of-the-art FEL facility in the UK, while simultaneously contributing to international R&D.

The ultimate aim is to develop a normal-conducting test accelerator (delivering approximately 250 MeV electron beam energy), able to generate longitudinally and transversely bright electron bunches, and to use these bunches in the experimental production of stable, synchronised, ultra-short photon pulses of coherent light from a single pass FEL, using techniques directly applicable to the future generation of light source facilities. It is also foreseen that the CLARA beam will be used for testing other advanced concepts such as beam driven wakefield acceleration.

CLARA will be located in an existing building previously used for the Synchrotron Radiation Source (SRS), and will utilise the front end of the Versatile Electron Linear Accelerator (VELA), as a first stage. Detailed design studies for CLARA are now in progress, with national and international partners welcome to collaborate on this project.